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Psalm 67:4 NASB:

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; For You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth.

Who are the “nations” the Psalmist is referring to, since at the time God was only God of Israel? The original Hebrew also seems to be in present tense though the NASB translates this in the future tense “you will judge.” I am not sure of that, though - any thoughts appreciated!

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  • Israel belongs to God, but God does not belong to Israel. God is the God of all creation and all the nations. Israel is just one of these creations, appearing only in Exodus, whereas the nations appear in Genesis 11. The Bible does not start with the book of Exodus, it starts with Genesis and God being the God of Adam and all his progeny.
    – Robert
    Aug 27 at 18:41
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The true God of heaven has a variety of titles that suggest universal sovereignty:

  • "Lord of all" - 2 Chron 20:6, 29:12, Est 4:17, Dan 2:38, Ps 97:5, Zech 4:14, 6:5, Mic 4:13, etc
  • "Lord of Lords" - Deut 10:17, Ps 136:3, 26, Josh 3:11, 13, 1 Chron 29:11

Further, we have the clear statements of many parts of the OT saying that God is to worshiped by "all nations"

  • Isa 66:20 - And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the LORD.
  • Ps 117:1 - Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.
  • Isa 56:7 - I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.”

Indeed, even king David had a personal garrison of "Gittites" (2 Sam 15:18) and Ittai the Gittite was one of David's senior army generals (2 Sam 15:19, 22). Gittites were Philistines from the city of Gath!!

Note the observation in Esther 8:17 -

In every province and every city, wherever the king’s edict and decree reached, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many of the people of the land themselves became Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

The Pulpit commentary makes this observation about Ps 67:4 -

Verse 4. - O let the nations be glad and sing for joy. There could be no greater blessing to the nations than their attraction into God's kingdom; nor, consequently, any event more worthy to be hailed with joyful acclaim, with songs of joy and thanksgiving.

Barnes also says this:

O let the nations be glad, and sing for joy - All the nations of the earth. Let them all be made acquainted with thee; with thy character; with the principles of thy government; with the methods by which thou dost bestow thy favors, that they all may be made glad. These things pertain to them all. The knowledge of these things would convey inestimable blessings to them all, and fill all their hearts with joy. Nothing would, in fact, diffuse so much happiness over a miserable and guilty world - nothing would furnish such an occasion for universal joy, gratitude, and praise - as the possession of the knowledge of the great principles on which God rules the world, and on which he blesses people.

APPENDIX - Other references:

The above analysis is consonant with many other declarations in the Scriptures:

  • Ps 24:1 - The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
  • Ex 9:29 - Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the LORD. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the LORD’s.
  • Josh 4:24 - He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”
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In addition to Dottard's theological point that the Earth is the Lord's and he is the God of all nations and all creation, there is a legit translation issue with leom, the lemma in question, which is an archaic form for 'am used exclusively in poetry and always in the plural (leummim). It can be translated as both "peoples" and "nations", depending on context. In the LXX, the word used is ethnos.

The reason why every single translation (that I'm aware of) uses "nations" in this verse is because of the context:

O let the nations (leummim) be glad and sing for joy: For thou shalt judge the people (ammim) righteously, And govern the nations (leummim) upon [the] earth. Selah.

So while it's true that in some cases when addressing only the assembly of Israel, one could see am being used as "people", the fact that it is plural "peoples", already brings pause as this would refer to different ethnic groups within Israel, but then when we see "govern the leummim upon [the] earth", then we are forced to abandon the notion that Israel is the refereant and forced to view it as different peoples in the political sense, that is, nations.

Back to the theological objection, obviously God is not only the God of Israel as in Genesis he created all creation and then chose Adam to have a special relationship with even though he was the God of all creation, and from that point on he continued to have a special relationship with specific individuals even though he was the God of all men. With the creation of Israel in Exodus, God announced a special relationship with Israel but continued to be the God of all nations and all men and all creation.

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What are “the nations” in Psalm 67:4?

Psalm 67:4 NASB:

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; For You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth.

God in harmony with his principal attitudes of justice, wisdom, power, and love, will act against “ungodly sinners,” not against the upright. Jude 14-15.[Ps 96:10 read below says that the earth will remain forever]

Jude 14-15 NASB

14 It was also about these people that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord has come with [a]many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Only ‘the wicked ones will be given to the sword.’ (Jeremiah 25:31) This will pave the way for the restoration of Paradise, fulfilling the divine purpose for the earth and humankind.​ Luke 23:43. Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth. Mt 5:5 ASV.

Psalm 9:8 NASB And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples fairly.

Psalm 96:10 ASV Say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth: The world also is established that it cannot be moved: He will judge the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:9 ASV Before Jehovah; for he cometh to judge the earth: He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity.

Conclusion

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy. Who are the Nations? God gives us this heartwarming promise.

Psalm 37:10-11 KJV [Compare Mt 5:5]

10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Jesus said, " the meek will inherit the earth." [Mt 5:5 ASV].

Who are “the meek” and “the righteous”? The Nations are the meek who humbly accept God's teaching and guidance; the righteous are those who love doing what is right in the eyes of God.

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